exercise to discover your style | living mood board

by | Oct 13, 2021 | Decorating, Secret Weapons, Tips and Tricks | 21 comments

First of all, thank you so much for all of your support and encouragement yesterday!  The Feels Like Home launch has been a success so far and I was beaming all day.  Since more of you have the book now, I wanted to talk about one of the exercises in the book that I am particularly proud of – creating a living mood board to discover your unique style.

There have been all sorts of quizzes and categories created over the decades to try to help people define their style and therefore be more focused and intentional when decorating their homes.  I think those can be helpful (and fun), but most people don’t fit neatly into a category.  We like and appreciate a mix of styles and the quiz results might vary greatly just depending on what we were exposed to and liking on that particular day.  What we like is a moving target, which can be very frustrating when you’re trying to work on a house over several years or even decades.

This exercise to discover your style was developed as I was photographing the book.  I started creating a few flat lays of fabrics, ribbons, and paint swatches to shoot for each chapter.  This started to evolve until I was grabbing anything and everything that I thought might look good together.  I was hunting and gathering from my own things, my favorite things, not worrying if they were decorative items or not.  They could be antiques, art supplies, kitchen utensils, natural elements…whatever caught my eye.

green white and yellow living mood board | miss mustard seed

I was not only creating a flat lay photograph, but I was creating a mood board.  A living mood board.  It wasn’t made out of magazine clippings of things I liked but didn’t own.  It was made of things I’ve bought and displayed.  It was made of things I love, things that make me smile, and things I could build an entire room around.  And, while the color palettes and emphasis of each flat lay were a little different, they were all “me” because they were made with my things.  I could clearly see my style and appreciate it in a whole new way.

kitchen living mood board | antiques | miss mustard seed

It also gave me the opportunity to creatively play and rearrange with no money and very little energy expended.  It’s a way to test out pops of color you might want to add to your typical color palette or you might discover that you’ve never really seen or recognized your true style.  Maybe what you like has always been swayed by others or sifted through a filter of trends so that it lost the things that make it unique.

blue and coral living mood board | miss mustard seed

I would encourage you to try this exercise to discover your style.  At the very least, it gets you playing with things you love and that almost always sparks ideas or creates motivation.  Set it out on a table or on the floor in a room where it will be out of the way and play with it for a few days.  Take a picture of it with your phone (in good, natural lighting) and study it a bit.  What do you see?  What are the common threads?  Maybe it’s not a specific color palette, but it’s a feeling.  Everything is bright, everything is soft, everything is old.  Maybe there is a strong color palette.  Maybe it’s all neutral.  Maybe it’s eclectic.  Maybe it’s rustic or romantic or a complete mish-mash.  Whatever it is, it’s you and it’s likely and completely okay if it doesn’t have a strong leaning toward one decor category or another.

It’s just a little collection of you.

neutral living mood board | antiques | miss mustard seed

This would also be a fun exercise to do with your kids if you’re working on their room and talk about why they picked each item.  We learn a lot about people through their things.

So, what do you do with this living mood board once you’ve created it?  How can you use this exercise to discover your style and turn it into a room?

Well, the good news is that the living mood board is completely open for interpretation.  You can take it literally and match your wall color to one of the chosen elements, find fabrics and furniture that would be right at home in your board.  Or, you can simply use it as a compass to give you a point in the right direction.  When you look at your living mood board, write down the words you would use to describe it.  Colors, textures, feeling, age, condition, patterns, materials, sheen…  Then apply those words to your room.  Are those words being represented?  Are they being camouflaged by things you don’t really love or by clutter?  Are those words not represented at all? If not, how can you add them in?  How can you take the collection of things you love and slowly bring that feeling into your room?

green living mood board | miss mustard seed

This is an amazing exercise to get you to really see your style instead of trying to fit it into one broad category.  It gives you the freedom to love what you love and appreciate it in a whole new way.

If you ever go to a thrift store and antique store and start collecting things that are “you”, then this is the same idea.  Through the chaos of the store, you can discover your style.  It is emerging by selection and grouping.  I always love it when I shop with friends and I can clearly see them in their piles and me in my pile.  We’re not shopping for a decor category.  We’re shopping for ourselves.  When you take style labels off the table, some of the pressure to fit into one goes with it.  You don’t have to worry about French Country or Farmhouse or Bohemian going out of style because you don’t fit in any of those boxes anyway.  And you, my friend, you and what you love will never be out of style.  It’ll just evolve and grow as you evolve and grow.

If you do this exercise, take a picture of it, share it on Instagram, and tag me (@missmustardseed.)  I’d love to see some of your style reflected in some of your favorite things. If you do the exercise, but can’t share a picture, just leave a comment with the words you saw in your style.  I bet we’ll all be able to visualize your style just through those words.

This exercise to discover your style and so many more are available in Feels Like Home…

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Worthy Publishing | Books-a-Million | Indie Bound

If you’re in Canada, you can order it online from Indigo.

Feels Like Home Book | Miss Mustard Seed | #feelslikehomebook


  1. Shelly Wallpe

    Fun exercise: straight lines, crisp/ironed, contemporary with worn items, caramel toned wood, fabric that is nubby linen, stripes, checks or faded paisley. Touch of black, textural element like wicker or a basket, natural element like a plant, stone/fossil, bird nest.Patinaed metal finish , Natural light and lamp light
    I have these items in every room. Sometimes the main color of the room changes but main body is neutral.

    • Marian Parsons

      I love this! I can get a good idea of what your style is from your words. 🙂 It sounds lovely!

  2. amy Mogish

    I enjoyed this post….I was so taken in by your book photos ‘mood board pics’, what a fun practice! My book was not to arrive til November…but got an update it is arriving tomorrow….happy me! Congrats….happy for you.

    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, awesome! Yay!

  3. Wendy York

    I love this 😍. I learned to do sample boards for decorating from people like Matt and Shari of the old HGTV show “Room by Room” and from Candace Olsen a long time ago, and I’ve passed that idea on to people who ask me for decorating advice, but I love the way you put this exercise together using things you already have to help you determine your style! I also love what you said about your style never going out of style because it’s your own 😁👌🏻

  4. Michelle Trabold

    Fun exercise: nostalgic items, colorful and funky toned down with natural woods and “nature-y” neutral greens. Scent is as important to my feeling of home as visual so not captured in a picture, but candles and natural woven items with a pleasant “grass” scent

  5. Jo

    Our home is decorated with items that we have each found to be our individual treasures and some how the colors, textures, and style are closely similar, luckily we are more alike than we think. We also each have our individual spaces where anything goes, very fun! My studio space is very eclectic and rusty. My personal thought is, individual spaces should be filled with treasures that bring you happiness and build your creativity; a place where you can be a little on the beautiful messy cluttered side.

    Congratulations Marian!

  6. Rhonda

    Got my book late yesterday afternoon. What a treat!! A lovely book, full of beautiful pictures and helpful advice! I think I may have to get two more for my daughters–a wonderful Christmas gift, I think!

  7. Deborah Raney

    I absolutely love this idea! Makes SO much sense to use things you actually own and love. I can’t wait to try it!

  8. Kay

    I just got your book and I am saving it until after dinner so I can take my time with each page. On one of your boards, you display one of your fabrics, I love the little birds on the flower and it would fit perfectly in my sewing room/ office. Where can I purchase your fabric? Thank you so much!

  9. Teresa

    Ordered my book yesterday can’t wait for it to arrive.

  10. MaryLisa

    great ideas! I’ve lived in several different homes and my styles have changed depending on the house. Right now I’m enjoying gray and rust tones because the tile is dictating it and it flows. I mixed some mid century modern with antiques and some overstuffed down cushioned chairs and I’m liking the mix up.

  11. Deanna Rabe

    What a great idea!

    I have your book on my Christmas list! Can’t wait!

  12. Addie

    I don’t need to do this exercise…..I need all your boards!!!! I LOVE them all!!! I love that you said, if it is your style of what you are all about and really love then it never goes out of style….YES!!! I agree!!! I don’t like labels or rules in decorating.
    Do what is about you and what you feel comfortable in and what you love!
    I too, am hoping for your book for Christmas.

  13. PJ

    What a wonderful idea! I look forward to trying this soon.

  14. Dodie

    I love your little gatherings of stuff. I am going to give it a try while I’m here in N C and again when I get to FL. Fortunately I have two homes to try out different styles I love.

  15. Martha Cloutier

    Where can I buy your beautiful fabrics??

  16. Janet

    I asked for your book for my birthday in August and it arrived in the mail yesterday. You write so well! I am reading through it after having lingered over the photos and I told my hubby last night it was one of the very best decorating books I’ve read. You said the book just flowed for you and it shows in every way. Congratulations, Marian!

  17. Monica Duelley

    My book came today and I can’t wait to finish work so I can start reading! Marian, the book is stunning and I just want to send a heartfelt thank you for sharing your art, home, encouragement, and your amazing talents with all of us. You are a blessing!

  18. Bev Gerald

    Dear Marian,

    Received your wonderful book this past Tuesday and proceeded to read it from cover to cover! I absolutely love the whole book, and from previous posts on your blog I fell in love with the plaid that is on your sofa and chairs and ordered it to recover two armchairs in my living room. In the past, your post had listed the fabric vendor you used to buy your fabric, so it was very easy to contact them and order that fabric myself–their prices were very reasonable! Hope readers will closely note all the excellent info you provide on your sources. Love, love the book!

  19. Cassandra E

    I was so excited to receive the book a couple days early! I’ve been wanting to set aside time to really dig into these exercises. I love the mood boards, and seeing your board in your office and all the little collections you have of samples and ribbons. I’d love to find a place in my house where I could hang a board with all my favorites. My house is literally two rooms entirely (except the bathroom) so I’m lacking a lot of room to play. But I think boards would help me let out some creativity pent up with my limited space.
    I wanted to say also, I just love the quilt in the giveaway. I don’t want to leave another comment on the giveaway page, but what a thoughtful gift. I love how she added the note to the quilt.
    I also love the other homes you’ve included. Fun surprise to see Michael’s house. I love his style too.


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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